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Oftentimes a house smells terrible, one room in particular. I can tell by the smell when it's was a dead rat. Every dead animal smells terrible, but rats have a particular smell. I go up in the attic, but of course see nothing, because most dead rats die somewhere under the insulation. Furthermore, attics are well-ventilated, and while the smell in the house is horrible, it's not so bad in the attic, and it's not easy to pinpoint. Still, I sniff like a bloodhound (and get fiberglass in my lungs) and finally locate, dig for, and get rid of the dead rat.
I know that dead rat is up here somewhere, I can smell it.
Bingo! Once it's removed I decontaminate, and the smell disappears.
Removing dead rats in the attic is not an easy task. They make the home smell terrible, but it's the architecture of the house that's tricky. Most of the time, the rat is lying flush against the sheetrock (drywall), and the odor leeches through, into the living area of the house. But the odor doesn't necessarily waft through the attic very strongly. Odor collects in air spaces where airflow is lower, but it also spreads out somewhat evenly, making the exact source of the odor very difficult to pinpoint. Thus, if you want to know how do you get a dead rat out of the house or attic, the answer is that you have to narrow the area down, and then either sniff every inch of the drywall, with your nose pressed right up against the ceiling, or you have to narrow it down in the attic and shuffle the insulation around. Experience matters a tremendous amount in these matters. When I first began my career, it often took me hours to find the dead rodent in the attic. Now I usually find it in 20 minutes or less, because I understand how the odor relates to the architecture of the home, and I understand rat behavior. For more info, go back to my main dead animal removal page, or click here to read about proper dead animal disposal.